Posts Tagged ‘Ian Hazelhoff’

Bibb County Glades

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Bibb County Glades

guest post by intern Ian Hazelhoff

On June 1, I was fortunate to attend the annual Bibb County Glades field trip for the Certificate in Native Plant Studies program.  Fred Spicer and John Manion led the charge on a spectacularly overcast day prime for botanizing.  Several other enthusiastic individuals, ranging from Master Gardeners to The Gardens’ Director of Library Services, Hope Long, filled in the ranks of our troop.  Insect repellant was applied, wide-brimmed hats adjusted, and introductions were shared.  In total, the fieldtrip itinerary listed three glade sites and concluded with a tour of the Cahaba River’s largest lily site.  Ambitious and driven by a unanimous desire to see some of the nation’s rarest plant species in habitats as unique as separate planets, we entered the glades.

To comprehend fully how this beautiful suite of rare plants can exist in such obscurity takes an understanding of this unique landscape.  The Bibb County Glades sit perched on small veins of a rock named Ketona dolomite, which possess higher concentrations of magnesium than more regionally common formations of limestone. Species that thrive in magnesium rich soils are prevalent.  The glades are also an “ecotone” region, where full forest environments gradually transition to more open, grassy areas.  Nestled within this gradient are species specialized to thrive with exposure to more light and wind.  Without a complete tree canopy, the glades represent an assemblage of highly specialized succession species existing in near total isolation. 

In areas with Ketona dolomite based substrate, magnesium and often aluminum levels are so high as to be toxic to many more common species found in the region.  As a historical note, Fred Spicer pointed out that seams of Ketona dolomite were once found scattered throughout Jefferson County, AL, however, these were the first to be mined during Birmingham’s steel boom.  Dolomitic limestone is a precursor material for steel production, and to think that it also supports the livelihood of some of the rarest plants on Earth!  With visions of steel furnaces and open pit mines at the helm, I quickly became aware of the true importance and special nature of the Bibb County Glades. 

As the fieldtrip came to a close, I found myself traveling the winding waterside road to see one of my home state’s secret treasures: Cahaba lilies blooming in their prime.  Pockets of lilies, with proud green stalks and exuberant white flowers, dotted the river’s center.  John Manion was quick to point out that the heaviness of the lily’s seed allows it to sink and become lodged between rocks on the river’s bed.  Cool water, sand, and fields of aquatic botanical wonder - not bad for a day at the office.

To learn more about the Certificate in Native Plant Studies series, and to register for any of its core classes, electives or field trips online, visit www.bbgardens.org/plantstudies.

Photos: Beth Maynor Young

New interns join The Gardens for the Summer of 2013

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

New interns join The Gardens for the Summer of 2013

Three new interns join The Gardens for the summer of 2013: Caroline Rowan, Ian Hazelhoff and Reid Pearlman. The group joined Kaul Wildflower Garden Curator John Manion on Tuesday for some work in The Gardens, and The Gardens Blog had its first opportunity for introductions.

Caroline Rowan (above) is entering her Junior year at Birmingham-Southern College and is a graduate of Mountain Brook High School. She is majoring in Biology with a minor in Urban Environmental Studies and Psychology. After graduation she plans on perusing a career in field biology. Caroline’s passion for nature and learning makes Birmingham Botanical Gardens a great environment for her summer internship. She credits The Gardens as one of the first places to spark her interest in the natural world. Caroline has grown up with The Gardens as a part of her life and is excited to now be working here. As she experiences life at The Gardens she hopes to uncover more of her interests and pursuits. Caroline will be focusing on the George Ward Park replanting project and will be evaluating the reforested area. She will also be exploring other aspects of the Gardens. Her internship is a 10-week program funded by Little Garden Club and Red Mountain Garden Club.

Ian Hazelhoff (above) is the 2013 Shades Valley Rotary Club intern at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. As a recent graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, he is eager to implement ideas in the landscape of Birmingham. A Birmingham native, he attended The Altamont School.  During his time at Sewanee,  he studied plant physiology, water policy, ecology and forestry. Forest dynamics and ecology training have led him to fascination with how natural systems interact with the urban landscape. He believes that effective landscape design and use brings the inherant value of the land to the forefront. He believes that sound environments and green space can increase economic value of their surroundings while providing ecosystem services for communities.  He hopes to be progressive in his approach to design in projects this summer.  
Reid Pearlman has been interested in plants since he was a child. He enjoys spending time outdoors, especially if he is fishing, hiking or botanizing. Reid will be entering his senior year at Vestavia Hills High School this fall. Reid plans to attend college and graduate school and work in the field of botany or medicine.